I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends

Study finds Americans, on average, have just a pair of really close pals.

by Lesley Kennedy • MORE.com Reporter

“One good reason to only maintain a small circle of friends is that three out of four murders are committed by people who know the victim.” —George Carlin

We can’t say whether Carlin’s take on why it’s OK to count your closest confidantes on one hand is the reason the average American has just two close friends, but we do admit he had a point.

LiveScience reports a new study shows that number is actually down from three pals in a study conducted 25 years ago, but the number of people with no bosom buddies whatsoever has stayed steady over the years.

So, what gives?

“Rather than our networks getting smaller overall, what I think may be happening is we’re simply classifying a smaller proportion of our networks as suitable for important discussions,” Matthew Brashears, Cornell University assistant professor of sociology and study leader, tells LiveScience. “This is reassuring in that it suggests that we’re not becoming less social.”

Want to add more gal pals to your inner circle—beyond Facebook friends, we mean? Forget Carlin and channel his opposite, Winnie the Pooh, who said, “You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

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Related: Friendship: Katie Couric & Nicolle Wallace

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First Published November 7, 2011

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